How your gut health dictates your chances of getting pregnant
Are you looking to give yourself the best possible chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby in the near future? You know there’s a laundry list of things you could probably start doing today to clean up your health and prep your oven for a little growing bun, but you’re just not sure what to do first?
I can help you with that.
You’ve probably researched and have been told by your doctor and other friends who have gotten pregnant before that you need to start taking a prenatal supplement, get off birth control, manage your stress and clean up your diet. While all of these are true, there is a missing component that goes deeper than just ticking off these check boxes.
Here’s what I’ve found with personal client experiences along with what the research is saying.
The health of your gut and colony of bacteria that lives inside of it (known as your microbiome) will highly influence (1) your chance of conceiving and (2) the health of your growing fetus and newborn baby. How?
First, it's essential to understand your guts main function and how it works, so let’s take a little trip down ‘Digestive Tract Lane.’ I want you to think about it like this...
The digestive tract is like a river that runs through your body. Each day, you put pounds of foreign substances (foods, drinks, medications, and supplements) into your mouth hoping that your body will be able to sort out friend from foe, give you the nutrients that you need, and excrete unwanted, toxic material.
Generally, your body does a terrific job, even though much of what you put into your mouth every day was foreign to your environment even 100 years ago
Because of this interface, the digestive system is the seat of your immune system, runs your metabolism, makes vitamins, dictates how you synthesize and balance your hormones, and ultimately communicates and is a major accomplice to the functions of every other cell in your body.
Therefore, our reproductive system is highly influenced by the ecosystem in our gut. There are actually a number of mechanisms by which these two systems (digestive and reproductive) work together.
For example, gut health, and namely your gut microbiome plays a vital role in immune function. When our immune system isn’t working optimally as a result of poor gut health, our bodies may enter a state of chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation may impact recurrent pregnancy loss (1)
Chronic inflammation may also cause decreased progesterone levels leading to implantation failure (2), the development of autoimmune processes impacting fertility (3), and the development of antisperm antibodies preventing fertilization(3)
The bottom line is that when your gut isn’t functioning properly, other body systems suffer immensely and consequences that ensue may not ‘look like’ it's related to the digestive system.
So how do I know if my gut is affecting my chances of conception and overall fertility?
There are a variety of signs to look out for, that aren’t JUST gut related. You might be thinking this does not pertain to me because I have NO gut symptoms.
Unfortunately, the absence of gas, bloating, and stomach pain does not indicate optimal gut health. Although the token symptoms of gut dysfunction do indicate something is wrong, a complete absence of symptoms does not indicate a properly functioning digestive tract.
Here are some non gut symptoms to look out for to help uncover if your gut health is potentially compromised:
Brain fog and diminished memory
Joint and muscle pain
Allergies including seasonal allergies as well as food allergies
Frequent colds and flu along with sinus issues
Constant hunger or cravings, especially for carbohydrates/sugar
Skin issues including eczema, acne, or rosacea
Depression and/or anxiety
So how do I diagnose asymptomatic gut issues?
There are a variety of tests out there that are available to get a more scientific look on what’s going on.
Comprehensive Stool Analysis – This test evaluates the presence of beneficial and harmful microorganisms in the gut including bacteria and yeast that could be out of balance..
Food Sensitivity Testing – This test identifies specific food sensitivities which could be damaging your gut lining, causing ‘leaky gut.’ If we are constantly consuming foods that our gut can’t handle, we damage it and become trapped in a state of chronic inflammation that impedes fertility.
BUT if you’re looking to discover where your digestive system is having problems RIGHT NOW, I’ve got a screening tool that I use with my clients up front before we dive into more in depth testing. This tool does not constitute an exact diagnosis of your problem. However, it can point you in the right direction in determining where the highest priorities lie with your gut health.
So if you’re struggling with some of the symptoms seen above and want to highly improve your chances of getting pregnant or have been trying for some time with no luck, don’t panic! Healing the gut and optimizing gastrointestinal function is something that can be easily addressed and fixed.
Get started today with 7 of my Gut Healing Tips
LEMON & APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – If indigestion (bloating, burping, a heavy feeling after meals) is common for you, try mixing lemon or ACV in a little water about 10-20 minutes before each meal. This will help increase stomach acid and improve digestion.
SLOW DOWN – This might sound silly, but don’t underestimate the simple yet powerful tool. Don’t rush into your meals. Slow down and notice the smells, textures, and tastes of your food. This gives the body time to prepare for digestion and begin the production of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid to break down the food.
CHEW YOUR FOOD – Do not inhale your food, even if you are ravenously hungry. Chew it thoroughly until it’s a paste-like substance. Chewing well allows enzymes to coat the food, helping it break down before it gets to the stomach.
EAT SOMETHING RAW – with every single meal! Raw foods contain beneficial enzymes that help digest food.
INCORPORATE SPICES & HERBS – Spices and herbs are healing to the gut lining. They are anti-inflammatory and support healthy intestinal bacteria. Some great ones are anise, caraway, fennel, and mint teas and/or seeds to relive any indigestion.
AVOID EATING DESSERT – including sweet fruits after a meal. Fruit and sweets (carbohydrates) are some of the easiest things for your body to digest, so they may begin to ferment on top of your previous meal leaving you feeling bloating and gassy.
FERMENTED FOODS – Replenish and feed intestinal bacteria by adding 2 heaping tbsp of fermented foods (aka probiotics) such as sauerkraut and kimchi to a heavier meal such as dinner. Add probiotic foods (indigestible carbs that are food for your gut bacteria) such as onions, asparagus, garlic, tomato, and Jerusalem artichoke.